The Effects and Dangers of Cocaine Abuse: Cocaine is Harmful, Dangerous and Comes with Serious Side Effects

Cocaine is a well known stimulant drug that comes with intense euphoric and addictive potential. It is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as schedule two, meaning it has high potential for abuse but may be distributed by a doctor for legitimate medical uses.

Cocaine is not a new drug. Pure cocaine is one of the world’s oldest known drugs and was first extracted from the leaves of the coca bush in the mid-19th century in areas of Peru, Colombia and Bolivia. In the early 1900s, cocaine was widely used to treat a variety of illnesses. Cocaine is a white powder that is typically snorted through the nose. However, the “high” can be achieved more quickly if the powder is dissolved in water and injected intravenously. Crack, a well known form of cocaine, is created by heating a mixture of cocaine and baking soda. Crack vapors are smoked, and euphoria can be reached within five minutes.

Side Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine is a nervous system stimulant which causes users to feel alert and energized. Effects of snorted cocaine can be felt immediately and fully wear off within 20 to 30 minutes. A cocaine user feels excited, sociable, talkative and possibly sexually aroused. Physically, the blood pressure and body temperature rise as the cocaine causes an excess of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, to be released in the brain. The comedown from cocaine is unpleasant, leaving the user feeling restless with dulled senses. Common after effects of cocaine use include:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • depression
  • lethargy

The after-effects are typically minimal at first and worsen with continued cocaine use. Regular users may eventually experience tremors, vertigo, paranoia, seizures or cardiac arrest, which can lead to sudden death. As an individual uses cocaine regularly, he or she will build a tolerance. This will cause the user to need a greater amount of the substance with each use to reach a typical high. Developing a tolerance to the drug creates dependence, which provides more opportunities for cocaine-related deaths.

Dangers of Cocaine

The most common physical danger of regular cocaine use is septum damage due to snorting. The nasal septum is the partition of bone and cartilage that separates the nasal cavities at the top of the nose. At first, regular users suffer constant nosebleeds, bloodied mucus and chronic nasal congestion. After continuous, long-term use, cocaine will begin to have a corrosive effect and may dissolve the septum completely.

The greatest danger of regular cocaine use is the potential for overdose. Most deaths associated with cocaine use are caused by accidental overdosing, usually when cocaine powder has been dissolved in drinks. Mixing the powder in liquid can cause the user to lose a sense of the amount of cocaine being consumed. An overdose is painful and traumatic. The victim suffers convulsions, heart failure or respiratory failure due to the depression of centers in the brain that control vital bodily functions such as breathing. Failure of these functions most often leads to death.

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine use does not result in addiction for every individual. Personalities and lifestyles often determine the responses to the drug among different people. However, cocaine is an extremely addictive drug. Cocaine causes a sense of pleasure and self-confidence that users often cannot find through other resources. When the euphoria wears off, the user craves that feeling again, and the compulsion to use the drug continuously is reinforced. For some individuals, occasional use may be completely harmless. For others, occasional use can turn into regular, long-term abuse as the cravings intensify. Regular abuse may then result in cocaine psychosis. The psychosis is a perpetual state of cocaine cravings, insomnia, paranoia, and mood swings. A drug treatment program may help an individual relieve the effects of psychosis and end long-term cocaine abuse.

Coke: Good Feeling, Bad Result

Approximately 2.4% of the American population uses cocaine on a regular basis. Users span a wide range of ages and are found among all ethnicities and levels of socioeconomic status. Every year, hundreds of those users are arrested on drug-related charges. Some users are not so lucky, experiencing physical damage from continued use or suffering painful deaths from overdosing. Individuals become addicted to cocaine due to the euphoria and feelings of pleasure the drug induces. When not high on cocaine, individuals exist in a world of misery with fatigue, headaches and depression. Cocaine is a trap. The drug lures users in with the promise of happiness, and then always leaves them wanting more.

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